In this episode of Q&A Friday we’ll tackle the challenging question of how to turn your passion into a financially sustainable eco consulting business, using your existing web presence. We are going to review Valentina’s websites Proyecto 333, ValeDeOro.es and ValeDeOro.com and give her some advice on how she can best balance her time between her bread and butter business – social media consulting – with her desire to grow her business as a workshop facilitator and personal organizer helping people simplify their lives, sustainably.
Valentina from Spain, asks us:
I am a freelancer “officially” working as a social media consultant for green companies. On the side I run my blog on sustainability and minimalism (http://valedeoro.es) and do workshops on sustainable living / simplifying your life (http://valedeoro.com)
One is income, the other is passion and thus comes much easier to me.
Is it feasible to focus on both business “branches” at the same time?
I don’t want to abandon the social media quite already, because it pays the rent. On the other side I don’t want to abandon my blogs either, because they bring so much satisfaction (only not paying the rent yet).
But I feel they are competing for my energy and conventional wisdom tells me not to focus on too many things at the same time. What are your suggestions?
First off, I want to commend you, Valentina, for your dedication to your passion. It’s not easy balancing work and “play” especially when “play” doesn’t bring a sustainable income yet.
Online Audit of Proyecto 333 and ValeDeOro
Here’s my analysis of your websites and recommendations on how you can get these websites to generate more business for you. When your websites start generating more income, it will be easier for you to let go of your “job” and focus more on your passion.
Here are action items for you, Valentina:
- Create an opt-in giveaway to entice visitors to sign up to your email list
- Install a light box pop up opt-in form on your sites – the PopUp Domination WordPress plugin is great
- Test subscription forms in different areas of your websites – try the Subscribers Magnet WordPress plugin by MaxBlogPress
- Use your blog to link to your business services pages. Run ads on your blog that link to your business services pages.
- Get Buy Now buttons on your services pages
- Get an online scheduling app on your website so people can book time with you right away- try Tungle.me
- Do your keyword research and make sure you create blog content that is optimized for intent to buy keywords
The Twitter management software I mentioned that is helpful in automating Tweets, in addition to finding and following people in your niche, is called TweetAdder.
The online scheduling application I mentioned is called Tungle.me. It syncs with Google Calendar, syncs across time zones and you can easily indicate multiple time options for meetings.
Online payment is as easy as getting a Paypal button up on your services pages. Paypal also let’s you do drop down price selection as well, if you have different payment options. Check out the Business section of your Paypal account.
Is it Feasible to Focus on Both Business Branches At the Same Time?
Yes, it is feasible, and many entrepreneurs do this. You keep doing both until the other generates a healthy enough income for you to take the plunge. But you need to understand its a time versus money thing. If a significant portion of your time is focused on the money making side, the time it takes to scale your passion based business stretches out longer. You can offset this by hiring people to implement for you, like offshore virtual assistants. But this is a double edged sword. It’s still you that needs to make the important strategic decisions, so unless you can really step in and ensure your passion based business is moving towards financial viability, you can easily spend a lot of money on contractors who are not impacting your bottom line.
If the time frame to monetization is taking too long for you, you may feel that you need to create the space to focus 100% on your passion based business. In this case, you will need to assess your finances, your burn rate, and determine how long you can go with zero income before you have to “get a job” again.
Identify Points of Synergy Between Your “Job” and Your “Passion”
The great news is that you do social media consulting for green companies, and the green market is also your target audience. You can find all kinds of juicy points of synergy here. For example, if one of your green business clients requires you to compile a list of all the Twitter users who are into eco shopping & fashion, is there a way you can parlay that into relationships for your eco consulting business?
If you are using your own Twitter account or accounts to promote your clients work, there’s no reason why you can’t keep the relationships. Your social media is another “list”, so to speak. You can promote your services to your social media network just as if it were an email list, though having an targeted email list is better.
Get On Top of Your Online ADD and Multiple Website Personality Disorder
Online attention deficit disorder is the biggest challenge for Internet entrepreneurs. Ever find yourself on embarking on an unplanned hyperlink journey? Every day? Every hour? You need to learn to focus.
Not just your attention, but your online activities. How is your contribution to your different websites – be it your blogs, or social media profiles – bringing you closer to your goals? Are you blogging for the sheer pleasure of it? Are you doing keyword research and creating content that captures valuable search engine traffic for your niche? Is the content you produce targeted towards the resolving the pain points of your target audience? Enough so that they would hire / buy from you?
Watch Out for the Burn Out Factor
One of the dangers that entrepreneurs face when trying to grow your side hustle at the same time as your “job” is the burnout that comes from burning the candle at both ends. You will need to carefully manage your time, and make sure you get enough rest, otherwise your productivity will go down the tubes, as you push yourself to squeeze more out of your tired body and mind.
Once your websites start bringing in more income, it will be a natural transition to shift more of your focus to your passion. Until then, unless you have the luxury of coasting for a while, you will need to carefully manage your priorities and balance your work and your play.
What do you think? Do you have any other suggestions for Valentina for monetizing her passion? Let’s hear it in the comments below.